With the province announcing details of its paid sick leave program amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the CEO of the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce believes it’s a promising sign.
“This announcement by the Government of Ontario is a step in the right direction to protect essential workers,” Karen Cross, CEO of the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce said in a joint statement, along with Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “When workers protect themselves, they protect their colleagues, their employers, and their communities.”
The newly-proposed sick leave plan would provide employees with up to $200 of pay for up to three days if they are missing work because of COVID-19.
Their statement goes on to say that the proposed provincial top-up to the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit is also seen as encouraging.
“We call on the federal government to support the Ontario government’s top-up and address shortcomings of their program, such as processing delays,” Cross said in the statement.
They also believe that the burden of paying for sick time should not fall on small businesses that are not able to fund additional sick time.
“Which is why our Chamber and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce support the notion of a temporary paid sick program that is paid for by government for the duration of the pandemic,” their statement reads. “Any paid sick day program must be fully and immediately accessible to workers who need it with a quick and seamless reimbursement for employers.”
However, both the Chambers of Commerce and the provincial government agree that the federal government could do its part when it comes to paid sick leave.
“Our government has long advocated for the federal government to enhance the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit program to better protect the people of Ontario, especially our tireless essential workers,” Minister Monte McNaughton said. “It is a tremendously positive step that the federal government has signalled their willingness to continue discussions on the CRSB.”
“Now we can fix the outstanding gap in the federal program so workers can get immediate support and can stay home when needed,” McNaughton added.